Dennis Severs’ House
“Operatic” is how David Hockney once described Dennis Severs’ house and we wholly agree. Every inch is adorned with precious objects – thousands of treasures brimming with colour and texture.
The former Huguenot silk weavers’ house dates back to 1724 but when the eccentric American bohemian Dennis Severs bought it in 1979, he began to restore it and set about creating a living stage set to look as though a family of weavers were still living there, complete with unmade four-poster beds; jewellery and ribbons adorning the vanity table; broken chinoiserie left at the scene of the crime and sugar mice scattered over kitchen counters.
Severs died in 1999 and since then the house has been entrusted to his close friend David Milne, and kept open to the public as a museum. The tours of this extraordinary curated imagining of a family home in the early 18th century are given in haunting silence. “You either see it or you don’t” is the house’s mantra – you’re encouraged to piece together this puzzle of a setting yourself. No audio guides, no gift shop, just feeling.
And as always, we loved having the excuse to dress the part. Where else would an Edwardian-inspired Erdem gown or a Rococo Simone Rocha dress be better placed? And Carolina’s seemingly modern Marni heels hint at footwear from bygone eras. The lesson? Fashions may come and go but in among the steel and glass sparkle of city-slicker tower blocks sit perfectly preserved time capsules of great beauty.
For information on booking a tour which last around 45 minutes and cost £15 per person, go to dennissevershouse.co.uk.